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Roof tent advice please


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We have been doing more and more camping as a family, and I have been thinking about using a tent when I stay away with work (it works well financially). We camp regularly, but would like to pack up and go much faster in the morning with less fuss, so have been thinking about roof tents - in particular the Maggiolina airlander - the type where you crank a handle to raise the fibreglass roof. This would mainly be UK camping, all year around and I was looking for any real-life experiences/advice. The only thing that is stopping me from going ahead right now is the worry that there isn't much additional room inside the tent, so getting in with wet gear on could present a problem. They do a 'changing room' addition to clip onto the side of the tent, but at £600, in addition to the £1845 of the tent - it's all getting a little bit spendy. Any advice gratefully received.


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Some of the 4 man dome tents only have 2 poles and they are more or less erected and plenty roomy, couldn't get much easier than that bar having someone on hand to do the work. Some are not very expensive and still of a good quality Tesco's are quite good and Argos.

I think the real reason for roof tents is just to get you off the ground when on safari (wild animal deterent).

I have a 110 and plan to make a full length roof rack that some marine ply can go in and have two dome tents on it.

Not sure of your vehicle but even a single should work on a 90.

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The "Maggiolina type" rooftents are in a different league than fold open rooftents.

They are basically just for sleeping and nothing more. The rooftents are often bigger & roomier by default due to design.

But they are also a different weight.

Leaving bedding in them is easier than in the fold open tents.

I'd go for a hotel / B&B solution though.

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A more cost effective , with a better outcome would be put a tow bar on the company car , if its a lease car they usually allow it , then get a small caravan , even if its a folder eg


When you are working getting a good nights sleep and ease of changing etc is important. It also makes for a better experience

if you dont have to spend time setting up , and packing , and not have to spend your off work time laying in a tent .

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We (me, the wife and the dog) just spent the weekend camping in a Howling Moon roof tent.


Its certainly easy to set up and put away, and would be even quicker with some practice and better organisation of all the other camping stuff in the back. In the rain sunday morning we we're certainly a lot more smug than our friends wrestling with wet tents and poles, and not having to carry equipment from the tent to the car.

The roof tent is really only for sleeping in though. You can sit up but dressing is not the easiest (especially if your clothes are in the truck).

if the back of the landy is well organised then there is enough space in the awning for two people comfortably as long as the ladder is secured up out of the way. We had the dog bed in the back of the landy to keep him secure. This would work equally well for kids....

I am very tempted to invest in some other kind of shelter to take camping alongside this setup as there isnt a huge amount of space for cooking etc. Thankfully this weekend a friend had bought an emergency £15 gazebo so we could hide from the rain saturday night.

This is a great setup for weekends and overlanding (I used this tent on a 110 driving round iceland with my uncle). Perfect for quick setup and dismantle if you're moving frequently but i think it would get annoying if you were staying in one place for longer than a few nights. One of the biggest issues is having to pack everything up if you want to go anywhere.

I should also add that I didn't buy this and probably never would due to the cost. I am very fortunate in being able to use this on long term loan. Our previous solution was a Khyam driveaway http://www.khyam.co.uk/detail.asp?p=757 which we used as an extension to the landy with a bed in the back.

Both options have their merits and I'm currently pretty torn as to which I prefer

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Hi Troddenmasses

I have a Maggiolina Extreme Small on the top of a 110 TD5.

Snailracer covers most of the points that I would – the main problem with roof tents is the nuisance of having to put the thing down if you want to drive anywhere.

Apart from that detail it’s brilliant. I’ve used it in Africa, Southern Europe, and last week in Scotland. It stays on the car all the time, and still looks and works like new.

Erected in one minute, you then have a proper bed with mattress, sleeping bag or duvet, proper pillows, an additional blanket or two, and if you’re a softie like me, the option of a 12V electric blanket, switched on for an hour before you retire: bliss! None of this kit needs to be rolled up before you collapse the tent, and never again will you rough it on the cold, hard ground.

One point: if you’re alone, putting the Maggiolina down without someone else to push in the loose canvas on the opposite side means you have to go up and down the ladder a couple of times to do this yourself, before the final squeeze down, or you may trap some canvas in the shell. I suggest you carry a 2ft length of dowel to push the canvas in from ground level, which makes it a lot easier.

The Maggiolina is not good for changing in, especially if you’re wet. You’d need somewhere else to do this. What my partner and I do is to shower and change into tomorrow’s clothes, then go to bed, putting the clean clothes into the overhead mesh storage bin.

Getting dirty clothes or shoes into this roof tent would be a mistake as, unlike many ground tents, there is no separate area in which to stow dirty kit.

I have no experience with the Maggiolina ‘changing room’, which as you say is expensive, and looks a bit of a faff to put up. How about a simple pop-up tent for changing and dirty kit? I use a pop-up for our small son, which is very easy.

The Maggiolina ladder is quite big. Despite what they say, it will not stow inside the tent itself. I had a bag made for it (bags-for-everything) and keep it inside the Defender. But to make it fit crosswise, one has to shorten the ladder, which needs a bit of thought and engineering, but it’s no big deal.

In short, I’d recommend a roof tent, and especially a Maggiolina, to anyone. So long as you’re not overweight or very unfit, getting in and out is quite easy, but this does need some concentration in the morning! Falling off the flimsy ladder could end badly.

And one final thought: Do not lose the handle! I did this once. Had a fellow traveller not had a huge screwdriver in his toolkit, I would have been unable to open the tent the next night. I have now painted mine fluorescent yellow, and have a ritual of checking it’s in its unchanging stowage place before moving off each morning. This is very important, with the tent screwed down hard, there’s little way of opening it without the right tool and the application of a lot of torque.

Have fun!





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  • 5 weeks later...

I've got the maggiolina airtop tent. Mine has gas struts to lift/lower the tent! Means I can open the tent in... awww... about 30seconds. Fold up is probably 2minutes. I've never seen the extreme model so I have no idea about fitting ladders in that, but the airtop does fit it's ladder in, and it came with a ladder bag. I've had mine on top of my 109,



That worked pretty well, but had to stand on the bonnet to close it up.

Then I made a camper trailer... Which makes the tent a bit lower and heaps easier to close up.


I love my little motel room. it's very comfortable and you dont' get wet in the middle of the night. Downsides are:

- as mentioned before - no change room (if your practised you can get changed in there but it's a real faff

- climbing the ladder needs some care if it's wet.

We leave all our sleeping gear in there permanently. However we live in Australia, so our climate is a little different to yours so I can't comment on how warm the tent is. Although is summer (30+deg celcius) at night the 4 windows open up and it's not too bad sleeping up there.

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  • 11 months later...

Sorry for necro-posting.    Any idea if one of these could be mounted directly tho the ribs of a Series vehicle?  I'm wondering about the viability of cutting a section out of the base to match the space between the roof ribs, for as far as possible along the length of the tent, with a false floor in the tent that can be clipped to the tent roof that would allow it to be used a bit like a Carawagon or Dormobile, with a section of the false floor separate to allow entry and exit directly into the back of the vehicle.  Obviously the edge oft he roof and tent floor would need some  work to seal the gap and provide rigidity to support the weight of a couple sleeping in the tent, and the challenge is the strength of the roof with the central part of the middle internal rib removed.  What do you guys reckon?

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  • 3 weeks later...

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